Re: Craziness of a quantum suicidal

From: <>
Date: Tue, 22 Jun 1999 03:24:19 EDT

Jaques Mallah's role is important in that he forces us to confront important
issues. However, he could more effectively communicate by "polishing" his
style. Enough said of that. Wei Dai has summarized the issue very well.

In a message dated 99-06-19 18:29:26 EDT, Wei Dai writes:

 I think the main point of disagreement between the two camps now is
 relative SSSA versus absolute SSSA (Marchal's terms). Can we all agree
 that given the absolute SSSA, there is no justification for QS? >>
My understanding of the "Strong" Self Sampling Assumption is shaky, but I
think I agree with the above statement. I would find it clearer if it could
be rephrased as follows: If the number of branching in the MW is absolute
then there is no justification for QS.

This is the crux of the matter.

Jaques Mallah's position is summarized in his words:
<< Your total measure would be reduced, so there would be less
observers with that name in the ensemble, and the total number of
observers would be less. >>

Clearly Jacques views the number of branches in the MW as absolute and
limited. If you do QS and trim a few branches you just end up with less
branches. The more stringent the QS conditions (winning a $1million or a
$1billion or having Elvis Presley come back to life) the smaller the number
of branches you end up in. And if you make the conditions too stringent you
may end up with nothing. No more of you.

If however, the number of branches does not change no matter where you are in
the MW -- according to a kind of a super Cosmological Principle -- then no
matter how many times you commit QS, you still have the same number of
branches left. This, I think, is the "relative" SSSA that Wei Dai and Marchal
are talking about. Adding branches or subtracting branches has no impact on
the probability of your future existence. And it is precisely in the
discussion of probability in this environment that some of the hottest
discussions with Jacques have taken place.

So which is it? absolute and limited number of branches or relative and

I think that the discussion hinges around the size of the MW. If the size is
finite, then there is no question, in my mind that Jacques is right. The
number of branches is finite and QS just trims the MW tree (or network). If
however, the MW is infinite, then the answer is more difficult.

Imagine the MW to be infinite aleph1 just like the number of points on a
line. In this environment the super Cosmological Principle I mentioned above
applies: no matter how many times you cut that line, the number of points on
any segment is still aleph1. This number is like the speed of light: a
physical constant of that world: aleph1, independent of the observer's
position -- or line segment.

So one condition for justifying QS is having an infinite MW. -- I am not sure
what is the lowest of Cantor's infinities would correspond to a sufficient

A second condition is that the number of branches "cut" by QS should be
infinitely smaller than the infinity of the MW. (ie Aleph QS < Aleph MW)

I would like to add that on purely philosopical grounds I can only conceive
of an absolute infinitely large MW, larger than all of Cantor's infinities --
because any other size would have to be arbitrary and therefore have a reason
to be so. And this limited MW would end up being just one instance of many
other MW in a larger MMW.

So which is it? Is the MW finite or infinite? Is QS justified?

This said, I think that NOTHING justifies QS. My position however is ethical.
As the idea of the MW matured in my mind, I have become convinced that while
the MW is absolutely infinite, it is possible to avoid the nihilist
philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche and evolve an ethic of the many worlds. In
out in my last post. Beautifully said in the 23rd psalm: "The Lord is my
shepherd, I shall not want...the shadow of the valley of death (the MW)... I
shall fear no evil... .my cup runneth over" The knowledge that we are
immortal and that all stings and arrows are temporary can give us a new
perspective on the world.
George Levy
Received on Tue Jun 22 1999 - 00:28:47 PDT

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